The chief executive of a company that hosted a campaign event for Mitt Romney today in Virginia agrees with President Obama that tax revenues should be used to help pay for extensive infrastructure improvement projects. He said that increasing gas tax revenues is the smartest way to pay for an infrastructure package that would fix the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges while also putting Americans back to work.
James Parker, the CEO of Carter Machinery, told the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent that he disagrees with Obama’s plan to pay for infrastructure spending by taxing the wealthy, but that he agrees new revenues are necessary to pay for a comprehensive transportation package:
“I believe that there’s got to be an economic plan to take care of our roads and our bridges,” Parker said. “Half a trillion over five years — over all of the United States.” Parker disagreed with Obama’s proposal to pay for his own infrastructure plan with a surtax on the wealthy, but he did say he favors a “gas tax” to pay for it.
“You have to have tax revenues to make it happen,” he said of his hope for a massive infrastructure plan.
Their difference on revenues aside, Parker’s support for infrastructure spending isn’t much different from Romney’s. Romney said “we’re going to have to make an investment” in infrastructure at a South Carolina campaign event in December. Parker’s plan to spend $100 billion a year over the next five years is roughly double the spending contained in the transportation bill in front of Congress now (Obama also supports higher levels than the Senate bill), but Romney has thus far not outlined a specific spending plan.
Romney also hasn’t offered a specific way to pay for such infrastructure improvements, saying only that paying for infrastructure would “require a new financing setting,” including “toll roads [and] public/private partnerships” in an interview with CNN last September. Given Romney’s support for the anti-tax pledge authored by activist Grover Norquist, however, it would appear that using new revenues, as Parker suggests, is an option that wouldn’t be on the table.